Tag Archive: imperfection


Wag the God

Day 101 1 Samuel 13-14

“A dog is smarter than its tail’, but if the tail were smarter, then the tail would ‘wag the dog”

What is more important, that Saul be right with God before the battle with the Philistines through submission to the directions he was given by the prophet of God or that God be “prepared” for Battle according to Saul’s timeline and in total disregard for  Samuel’s instruction?  It’s an urgent situation and I can almost see how Saul get’s tripped up. I mean, essentially,  “WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”  Is a powerful motivation to want to take control into your own hands and start dictating just how and when everything is going to take place.  Clearly Samuel was late, right?  Self preservation seems to be the more pressing issue here right?  Saul included God, albeit not the way Samuel and therefore God had asked him to, but hey God gets a honorable mention in the plan.  Then Samuel shows up and has the audacity to be upset!  “Look old man, you were late, and I needed God’s blessing so it is what it is.”

 13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.”

Prophets are never much fun are they. What is the more important issue here?  The fate of this battle or the fate of this Kingdom?  Despite Saul’s meddling it was the LORD who won that battle according to the LORD’S timeline.

  My Key verse for the year has been Exodus 14:14 The LORD will fight for you, you need only to be still.  Trying to figure out what that means has been a journey in and of itself.  But for me, it’s been drawing close to God in my turmoil, Praying and Praising like never before, listening for the Holy Spirit in everything, and seeking the fruits of the Spirit. Does this mean I never screw it up and try to take control for myself. Uh No.. I frequently try to take the yoke from God claiming its my pile of crud I’ll carry it… but when the weight hits I freak out and  I realize just how much my God is carrying and I gladly give it back.  In giving it back I’m putting my trust in God’s timing, and God’s hand in this. What’s more important, this battle or the fate of my relationship with my Creator?

  God’s hand is in my life and my life’s circumstances, I see His fingerprints everywhere, and let me tell you He’s messy. He likes to remind us of just where he played a part in our lives. To quote a Veggie Tales move, specifically Esther, The Battle is not ours, we look to God above, for He will guide us safely through and guard us with His love. I will not be afraid, I will not run and hide. For there is nothing I can’t face when God is at my side.  Saul got that.. kinda, he understood it in an arrogant, “I know what’s best,” disrespectful kind of way. His priorities were myopic, And this begins his downfall.

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Levitical Chit Chat

Day 49 Leviticus 16-18

I felt a lot of  trepidation when I started reading Leviticus.. but I have to say the conversations this book has spawned has been pretty cool.  One day off of the group page (we couldn’t comment on the group for some reason that day)  My brother, a childhood friend and i really got into a great talk over what we were struggling with while reading this particular book of the bible.   They said I could repost our conversations here, after I asked because I just really grooved off of what all we were almost casually chit chatting about:

My little bro, “Haven’t gotten there yet but I remember Aaron’s sons get killed because they messed up something with incense? It’s been a few years. Last time I read this book I thought God might be an alien who crash-landed in the middle-east and start…ed making up rules to keep his “subjects” busy…yes, lay your hands upon the head of the and for some reason the fat around the entrails is important. The tabernacle must have lots of fancy stuff…LOTS of fancy stuff. Entrails and fancy stuff is important. If you mess up and get purple drapes instead of Chartreuse, God will kill you. ok I’ll stop, but expect a few more rants until we hit Joshua.”

Me: “It’s a bit of a struggle for me too… I have to think after years of slavery they must have needed something like this. There is a rhyme and a reason and I’m trying my best to unearth some of it, but the problem is it’s so old I don’t think many people know for sure the why to much of this… that doesn’t mean there can’t be application and significance to us today.
Nadab and Abihu used “unauthorized’ coals to light the fire under the altar of incense… they were only allowed to uses the coals from the other altar.. the altar of sacrifice. There is only two fires burning in the tabernacle (I think) So where and why they got these other coals I have no idea… I almost think it was intentional. “God can’t be THAT specific, Moses is making half this stuff up… Lets test this.. Er oops.” FLAMES of DEATH.
I don’t think of it as God being mean, more like God’s perfect presence equals death to imperfect humans without an intercessor. The sacrifice and the priests (Aaron and his sons) were Israel’s intercessor… and it was clearly a dangerous job… the details were for the protection of the priests. To us today all the ritual could be perceived as useless clutter between us a God but to them back then it was their only means to God. Jesus ripped that vail in two. through Leviticus I’m finding the need for jesus’ death becoming clearer and clearer. however we’ve got a long way to go.. It’s the Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy ugg.. We can do this!!”

 
Little Bro: ” I’ll be there for the duration, but it reminds me that the old testament is called “old” for a reason. We are so distant from this type of worship that it makes no sense, and God comes across as a pissed-off regulator of cultural norms/trad…itions, instead of the existential being I was taught about. As an universalist, this isn’t a huge deal, but for anyone who believes the bible is the unequivocal TRUTH, it might sting a bit. This is a history of a culture, warts and all. I will try to stay politely silent until we get to the history portions. JOB is my favorite so far.”
 
Childhood buddy, ” I have to say, I appreciate both of your insights because I tend to lean toward K’s take. Sheesh. Harsh stuff. But I appreciated your/Beth’s analysis, E. Those were dangerous jobs – but I just don’t understand why the rules had to be so intense and (at least in 21st century eyes) bizarre. I have a hard time even understanding, much less keeping all these rules and directions straight! If I was Aaron’s son, I could totally imagine accidentally breaking a rule (not trying to test one) – if you know what I mean. What do they say about kids? Try giving them a three-part assignment (Go to the closet, get two shoes and put them on the table.) and their ability to follow that “layered” assignment shows a certain level of maturity. These are MULTI-layered assignments and, truly, I don’t know how well I’d perform… (p.s. wouldn’t the altar stink after all that blood is splattered on it over and over??)”
 
Little bro: ”  Tell me if this is right or not: Example of reform. Jesus flipping-out and turning over tables because they were selling pigeons at a holy site. They had turned a true sacrifice ritual into a corner-store bargain and shat all over the purpose of the ritual itself, so he was pissed off (I guess). I also thought if someone would actually recreate the tabernacle it would be extremely expensive…have you seen/heard of anyone recreating it? Seems like the specs are pretty specific, but there’s lots of gold and silver/bronze involved. My guesstimate is 5 million bucks. Good luck, tabernacle-people, wherever you are.”
 
Me: ”  I’ve seen pictures of recreations but the lamp stand alone consists of enough gold the modern-day cost would be in the billions. Egypt was certainly plundered!! I keep thinking about how the tabernacle just made the Israelites a walking target. that much gold in one spot would be really tempting.. and the Israelites had even more .. a few days ago when they were offering the supplies for the tabernacle they had to be told to stop.
my issues with rituals is eventually the ritual looses its spiritual aspect or the ritual itself becomes worshiped or like KJ pointed out it becomes corrupted. Look at me second guess God.. I’ve got one more, why did it take another 1500 years for Christ? Why no Christ in the desert? I know there is value in the answer to that question, that’s the only reason i ask it.”
 
   Then a few days later…
Childhood buddy, “I just keep thinking about what you said the other day, E, about “Why didn’t Jesus come during this time?” when people were in this position of making such ceremonious offerings/sacrifices/repentance for things they’ve done that go all the way down to physical ills. I think people were asked to give up things personal to themselves (doves, lambs, etc.) to make their sin hit home and when God saw that wasn’t cuttin’ it (wasn’t convincing people that he was the way, the truth and the life and they needed to let go of their sinfulness) He provided the ultimate sacrifice. Brilliant really. I for one am much more aware and appreciative of the sacrifices OTHERS make on my behalf than I am when I make a minor sacrifice for my own wellbeing.”

My Golden Calf

Day 40 Exodus 30-32

Can I wait for 40 days to hear the plans God has for me?  I mean I’ve seen His miracles, I’ve worshiped Him, felt close to Him, Complained to Him.  But I guess what I’m asking is if I asked God a specific question, or made a specific request, How long could I wait for God to answer?  And what if God answer at the moment is, “Be still [Erika] and know that I am God.”  Like an Attention Deficit Child of five I think my ability to be still in mind, body and soul last only a few moments and then I’m off seeking answers elsewhere…

What are my Golden Calves I seek in the place of my God, and how long does it take me before I start to seek them?  Those that know me know that I am in a state of searching, thinking and beginning what seems to be a Season of change.  Some of this I know is God inspired. My prayer a week ago came as a loud wail accompanied by a torrent of tears. I called to the Lord and asked him to MOVE ME! Since that prayer I’ve felt Peace, God’s faithfulness,  Patience and Self control.  So I’m searching with God’s Blessing, looking for the next step in my life, in truth I’m looking at going to school again.  Does this all seem too melodramatic,  it’s not really, it’s just in my nature to be, shall we say, spirited.  Here is my worry.  I can’t figure out what I want to be when I grow up, so I’m struggling looking at different programs.  Oh God what if I pick the wrong one? What if I waste all this time and all this money and not what to do what I’d be trained to do?! 

“Be Still and wait” 

And in marched the Golden Calf… Have I really asked how God can be glorified in these choices I’m looking at?  It’s hard, I remember sitting at my teller window as I worked as a bank teller thinking how does this Glorify my maker?  But I haven’t been thinking about that.. I’ve been thinking money, child care, will I be happy?  I’m not saying these aren’t important questions but GOD got me to where I am right now.  It’s not that I think I’m all that special I just Know that God has done special things in my life, I need only to look at my three kids to know that.. So WHY can I not trust that God can do something special in this… All of this “stuff” I’ve been struggling with since the beginning of January? I literally said to my husband yesterday,” I’m running in circles getting nowhere.”   If I just wait … He’s got something coming… much better than what ever I can half convince myself is best.  What is my Golden Calf at the moment?  Worry, fear, and anger.. always anger.  These things paralize me, and I’ll cease to move in this direction I’m feeling led… where ever this direction may be leading me.

My friends are farmers up North, and it interesting to hear about how with it being so cold there is nothing they can do on the farm, and so the husband is in the home.  It’s that Season where there is nothing to be done in the field.  Spring is coming… but for now they wait.  The Israelites waited out the 40 days of Moses’s stay on the mountain and by the end they had convinced Aaron to build them a god that could be worshiped for doing nothing.  It’s only attribute was it was created by them… to fill a void that would be filled by the God who had led them from Egypt, who still fed them Manna daily, they needed only to wait.  Today is day 40 of our study… it’s high time my golden calf be disassembled, crushed and scattered.

Brat

Day 24 Genesis 35-37

When I read about Jacob telling his brothers and his father about his dreams, and yes I know they are prophecy dreams and it all comes true in a grand way… but I can’t help but think that Jacob got a kick out of sharing these dreams with his family…  What brat, and given his brothers’ history of WAY over reacting he is not even a very smart brat.  I don’t think Jacob needed to be killed or sold into slavery for rubbing prophecy dreams in his brothers’ faces, BUT if God were to fulfill the prophesy dreams He gave to Jacob, Jacob HAD to be knocked down a few notches.  So one could argue that God knew  about Jacob’s tendency to brag and his brothers’ habit  of being quick to anger and used this situation to set up some VERY important events.

     Best I can tell almost all prophets are annoying.. on their good days.  

Book of Sin, House of Sinners

Day 23 Genesis 32-34

Jacob means the deceiver.. and deceive he did.  The bible is NOT some sugar-coated fairytale of perfect people.  Jacob cheated his brother, lied to his father, his family was a mess because of his favoritism, even in the face of reconciliation with Esau (which I have to give Esau some credit for) he lied then just so save his butt.  His deceitfulness was passed onto his children whos wrath over the rape of their sister was WAY over the top and uncalled for.  Yet this is the Jacob who is bestowed with the name Israel…  Really, THIS guy gets to have a country named after him?! Because really, he didn’t do much of anything all that impressive.  Thus far, the bible is a book of sin and sin and sin, or as my brother put it moral ambiguity.  God it is such a wonder You didn’t pack up and move on!  I’m sure there is some alien race out on a different planet  that is much better than us!  Vulcans, yeah, I bet their bible is a bit more squeaky clean than ours.. or do they not believe in God?

     I read this passage this morning before church and it must have been at the forefront of my mind.  I LOVE worshiping with this congregation.  Mostly because they seem to keep it real.  Not a soul there claims to be without sin at some point in their lives.  Some have been through multiple divorces, drug abuse, illegal gang activity, prison. They wear it on their faces, some have the scars and the tatoos that prove where they’ve been in life. Yet here we all are laying it out before God.  I’m not saying we’re perfect now either, those seeking perfection in their church don’t last long with us. It’s fascinating to me what image some seem to think  a church needs to fulfill.  Even more intriguing is the idea that church is full of hypocrites. .  .  Well if you think church and the bible is full of perfect people, or at least people who think they are perfect then I can see where they are coming from.  We as humans are by nature imperfect.  So if the bible were to be an honest book, which I believe it is then the people in the bible will all be imperfect as well, minus only one: Jesus. 

     God honors those who come to Him, even when we’ve sinned.  We’ll see this again and again… That’s the lesson I took from Jacob, the man who wrestled with God, the man granted the name of a nation.